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A complex and timely satire with as much darkness as slapstick, Ernst Lubitsch's To Be or Not To Be delicately balances humor and ethics. Read critic reviews

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To Be or Not to Be Photos

Movie Info

Acting couple Joseph (Jack Benny) and Maria Tura (Carole Lombard) are managing a theatrical troupe when the Nazis invade Poland. Maria is having an affair with Lieutenant Sobinski (Robert Stack), who suspects Professor Siletsky (Stanley Ridges) is a Nazi spy. With Siletsky in possession of a list of members of the Polish resistance, the Turas' company takes action. Using their skill for impersonation, Joseph and company must confuse the Nazis and stop Siletsky from handing over the list.

Cast & Crew

Jack Benny
Joseph Tura, Prof. Alexander Siletsky
Robert Stack
Lt. Stanislav Sobinski
Stanley Ridges
Prof. Alexander Siletsky
Sig Ruman
Col. Ehrhardt
Peter Caldwell
Wilhelm (uncredited)
Edwin Justis Mayer
Writer
Alexander Korda
Executive Producer
Werner R. Heymann
Original Music
Miklós Rózsa
Original Music
Rudolph Maté
Cinematographer
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News & Interviews for To Be or Not to Be

Critic Reviews for To Be or Not to Be

All Critics (47) | Top Critics (12) | Fresh (45) | Rotten (2)

  • It isn't, I am sorry to say, Lubitsch's most intriguing comedy, nor is it the best of Jack Benny vehicles, but it will do until another buggy comes along.

    January 18, 2018 | Full Review…
  • Lubitsch understood at the time, even if many critics and filmgoers didn't, that all those elements and all that rule-breaking make To Be Or Not To Be brilliant.

    August 27, 2013 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • A masterpiece satire around the Second World War is more likely to be appreciated now after some distance.

    August 20, 2008 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • To Be is a very funny comedy, salted to taste with melodrama and satire.

    August 20, 2008 | Full Review…
  • Lubitsch's guidance provides a tense dramatic pace with events developed deftly and logically throughout.

    August 20, 2008 | Full Review…
  • It's certainly one of the finest comedies ever to come out of Paramount.

    June 24, 2006 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for To Be or Not to Be

  • Aug 20, 2018
    It takes a brilliant filmmaker to find the perfect tone for something as insane as a slapstick satire involving Nazis at the height of World War II, and Lubitsch not only hits the mark with a fabulous cast (Jack Benny is priceless) but creates a film that is truly hilarious.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer
  • Dec 07, 2013
    Just about everything that comes out of Jack Benny or Carol Lombard's mouth will make you laugh . . . not to mention the fact that shamelessly mocking Nazis is always enjoyable.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Mar 06, 2011
    Quentin Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds lovingly ripped dozens of pages straight from the books of cinema history. From "actors" playing Nazis to trick the Gestapo to a climactic theater "Nazi Night" including a surprise visit from the Fuhrer, Tarantino was perhaps influenced by few more than Ernst Lubitsch's zany satire To Be Or Not To Be. Set in 1940's Warsaw during the German occupation, a raucous theater troupe, led by the arrogant "great, great actor" Joseph Turan (Jack Benny), take on the Gestapo in the name of the Polish Resistance. Variably a farce and a film of vital importance, this 1942 classic took whip-smart shots at Nazi servitude and Jewish sacrifice even before they were known to the American public. (The war would last for three more years.) In 2011 To Be Or Not To Be could be seen as a mockery or a gem. In any case it's a seminal comedy and, like Casablanca, a saavy look at World War II when its outcome was still indeterminable.
    Bob O Super Reviewer
  • Sep 05, 2010
    This movie is hilarious, it has a great cast and a good director, and the story is interesting. It's even funnier than Brooks' 80s remake. I highly recommend this movie.
    Aj V Super Reviewer

To Be or Not to Be Quotes

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